By Souls of Silver
The church of St. Boniface, situated in San Francisco, started lending a helping hand to people who were homeless and needed shelters, almost fifteen years ago. This initiative was first taken up by Father Louis Vitale from the Church, who started it together with the community activist Shelly Roder, in 2004. They called the project The Gubbio Project.
A great number of homeless people sleep on the pews and are even provided with blankets by the people from the Church. In the words of the website of The Gubbio Project, the people who come to seek shelter aren’t asked any questions and there are no limitations whatsoever, the Church helps anyone and everyone who is in need and treats them with respect and dignity.
The local churchgoers, too, can enjoy this facility. But the rules of The Gubbio Project ensure that 2/3 or more of the space has to be reserved for the ones in need.
A representative of the Gubbio Project says, “This sends a powerful message to our unhoused neighbors – they are, in essence, part of the community, not to be kicked out when those with homes come in to worship.”
According to him, this service also inspires and sends out a message to the churchgoers, making them realize that they need to help the needy and do it without any conditions. With these sorts of projects, the main concern is always of security and the treatment of the people who come to seek help. However, the project has proved to be successful in being different, so far.
In 2018, it was reported that Seattle planned to raise razor-wire fences to prevent homeless people from camping and taking shelter. Even in the city of San Francisco itself, robots were used to scare the homeless people away and even to report them to the police. In fact, the government even spent about $8,700 in order to place large boulder stones right under overpasses in order to stop the homeless individuals from setting up camps.
Homeless people’s camps have been common in this area, given that they weren’t already made to leave. The government has made sure that no encampments take place in this area, though.
In March, activists who tried to feed the homeless people in Wells Park, California were also arrested; even a kid as young as 14 years was taken along as well. The authorities say that these laws were made to prevent diseases and crime from spreading. But the activists protest, claiming that these laws put the homeless in a bad light, treating them like criminals.
One activist, named Mark Lane said that this means criminalizing the homelessness. He states that the authorities have created four laws opposing the homeless masses.
It is our collective responsibility to take care of the homeless as the matter of the fact is that the system and the governments have somehow failed in fulfilling their purpose of providing for everyone. And such kind of failure cannot be a part of an equal society.
This church and the Gubbio Project is an inspiration.
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